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  1. Default San Francisco - Vegas - Boulder in 11 days possible?

    Hi,

    I appreciate that the SF - Vegas route has been discussed amply here, and I've read a number of threads with interest. I'm interested in some pointers in terms of specific timings. I will be in San Fran on the 6th August night (maybe a day earlier, still up in the air), and have to be in Boulder by the 18th morning, which gives me 11 days. I'm planning on doing SF - Vegas, the question is whether I could also drive from Vegas to Boulder, or whether I have to fly. My gut feeling is that even if I rush Vegas to Boulder (say in 2 days), it would still be preferable to flying, something better than nothing!

    In any case, I had this rough outline, I wonder if people had thoughts on how feasible it is. Never been in the US, so planning this a bit blind.

    7-9: Stay in SF, but on the 9th afternoon start travelling towards yosemite. Spend the night outside the park near the western entrance.
    10: Visit Yosemite, stay somewhere outside the park (eastern entrance? Lee vining/mammoth lakes)
    11: Go back into Yosemite for half a day, then start heading death valley way, stay somewhere outside death valley (lone pine?)
    12: Death valley, then head to Vegas.
    13-14: Grand Canyon. Maybe go out one day, stay there (helicopter tours worth it on one day?) then come back the following day, 14th night in Vegas.
    15-17: Vegas to Boulder. Not sure where I'd stay, but should be ample time. Of interest that I can see (directly on route) are Zion and Bryce. Finishing the 17th a couple of hours from boulder would be ok.

    The main bit that might be rushed is yosemite-death valley. Is the plan above feasible? Adding a day there would give me just two days to do Vegas-Boulder, which I think is ok, but gf not that keen. The other option is to just fly from Vegas to Denver on the 17th evening, giving me an extra 2-3 days to do Yosemite a bit slower, maybe a day trip to Zion, or sequoia national park before death valley.

    It appears that the potential extra day I might get by arriving earlier (find out tomorrow) might make a big difference, but want to get plans sorted as I'm rapidly running out of time.

    Any suggestions/ideas on the specifics of the above plan would be greatly appreciated!

    Cheers.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default one big change

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think your pacing looks very good, until you get to the end. But the good news is there is a very easy fix.

    The big problem spot is the Grand Canyon. It's simply too far to drive there and back in one day. You could do a helicopter tour, but most of the Vegas based ones just go to the West Rim, not the national park, and there really is nothing that beats the experience of of actually seeing the viewpoints along the rim at the national park.

    But the fix is easy - instead of treating GC like a seperate destination, just include it on your trip to Colorado.

    On the 14th, drive to the Grand Canyon, and then stay the night at the Cameron Trading Post (it will be a bit pricey, but worth it for the time savings), on the 15th, head up through Monument Valley towards Moab. and the 16th, check out Arches/Canyonlands before making the trip onto Boulder.

    (actually, you've got a full day more than I was thinking, so you could really use the chance to have a full day at the Canyon, but you could also use that time to have more time to explore any of these other areas.)

    Alternatively, instead of going to Moab, you could explore the Durango area (Mesa Verde, Million Dollars Highway, etc).

  3. Default

    I agree with Midwest Michael about driving to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and then driving back to Vegas. It's to much driving out of your way.

    If you really want to see Zion and Bryce I'd either do them before the Grand Canyon or after. The mileage about the same. But I also like Midwest Michael's ideas for the 14th.

    10: Visit Yosemite, stay somewhere outside the park (eastern entrance? Lee vining/mammoth lakes)
    11: Go back into Yosemite for half a day, then start heading death valley way, stay somewhere outside death valley (lone pine?)
    Lee Vining is pretty expensive place so keep that in mind. If you plan on just going to Tuolumne Meadows section, this plan will work, but you wanted to spend more time in Yosemite Valley then that's almost a 2 hour drive drive one way. It's a pretty drive but you will be doing it three times.

    Utahtea

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    Good catch by Utahtea,

    I glanced over that part about staying east of the park, I just assumed you were staying in the same place as your first night.

    Staying on the east side, involves crossing the Sierra Nevada mountains via Tioga Pass, and while it is a great and scenic drive, its not the kind of thing you want to do as a commute in and out of the park. If you aren't staying inside the park, you'd want to stay somewhere like Oakhurst or Mariposa for your exploration of the Valley, until you head over Tioga and move on towards Death Valley.

  5. Default

    Thanks for your replies! I'm glad you find the route doable, I'm getting confident that it can be done..

    Out of pot luck I found a vacancy in curry village for the night I was planning staying on the eastern side (someone must have cancelled, there was nothing the day before), so I've booked it. That way, I think I could do a full day in yosemite, without the hassle of leaving and coming back, then on the second day I can spend the morning in yosemite, then head out east towards lone pine, or somewhere close to death valley. That way I would get to vegas a night earlier than in the original plan.

    With respect to grand canyon, my plan was to do it over two days, i.e. staying there overnight. Moving on towards colorado instead of going back to vegas probably makes sense, but might want a second night in vegas.

    Michael, by going the route towards boulder you gave me (monument valley, moab, arches) wouldn't I miss Zion and bryce? I thought these were really worth it. My plan to get to boulder was to take the main route (15 then 70), as I'd heard it was the most scenic anyway. Having 3 days I envisaged spending some time in zion, maybe overnighting around bryce, then taking in another park on the second day (arches?).

  6. Default

    Michael, by going the route towards boulder you gave me (monument valley, moab, arches) wouldn't I miss Zion and bryce? I thought these were really worth it. My plan to get to boulder was to take the main route (15 then 70), as I'd heard it was the most scenic anyway. Having 3 days I envisaged spending some time in zion, maybe overnighting around bryce, then taking in another park on the second day (arches?).
    If you went Monument Valley to Moab, you would miss Zion and Bryce. If you do Las Vegas then Grand Canyon without going back to Las Vegas, then Zion and Bryce are a little out of your way but still do able. I think Michael was giving you other scenic options so you wouldn't have to back track.

    If you decided to do Zion and then Bryce, I would skip going back to I-15 and take the Scenic Byway Hwy 12 to Torrey. Then take Hwy 24 east passing though Capitol Reef National Park to I-70.

    If you do go to Moab, then take Scenic Byway Highway 128 from Moab to Cisco and I-70.

    Utahtea

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default In that case, here's another option.

    Quote Originally Posted by lgarcia View Post
    Michael, by going the route towards boulder you gave me (monument valley, moab, arches) wouldn't I miss Zion and bryce? I thought these were really worth it. My plan to get to boulder was to take the main route (15 then 70), as I'd heard it was the most scenic anyway. Having 3 days I envisaged spending some time in zion, maybe overnighting around bryce, then taking in another park on the second day (arches?).
    If that is what you want to do, another way of going about it, is to see the Grand Canyon from the North Rim. Everybit as spectacular as the South Rim, but nowhere near as touristy nor as busy and easier to get around and park. Quite a few short hikes to wonderful overviews.

    I would have to agree that I-70 must be one of the most scenic interstates on the continent and will put you in a good position to visit Arches and Moab. Make sure you take route 128 back out of Moab to I-70. It is spectacular. But I wouldn't take I-15 to I-70, stay on scenic route 89 and pick up I-70 around Richfield.

    If you still wanted to go through Monument Valley, you could go to Zion and Bryce and stay in Kanab that night, before going to the North Rim the next day and onto Monument Valley. The rest of the route would then take you to Moab, Arches and onto I-70.

    Lifey
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 07-07-2011 at 04:02 AM. Reason: added info

  8. Default Revised plan

    Cheers guys, advice much appreciated. I particularly like the little tips on what roads to take, no chance I'd know otherwise.

    I agree that the going to/from grand canyon is not ideal. We wanted two nights in vegas, and I've been informed that one more relaxed day wouldn't go amiss, so the new plan involves staying a whole day in vegas (although I'm eyeing up trip possibilities, like red rock canyon, as I suspect the strip by day is not great). Then going to grand canyon, spending the night, then pushing on. There is a question of northern vs southern rim. I found a very interesting article comparing them. The idea I get is that you get your more typical views from the south, and it's easier to get good views. Northern rim is considerably more chilled, quieter, etc. (and saves 2 hours in the overall trip for me). For a first visit I'm still thinking south might be best, but as always suggestions welcome. Both would be super, but I don't think I'd have time (adds 2 hours there and back to journey to panguitch, already 6 hours driving, and I want to see zion on that day).

    Itinerary now looks like this:
    5: IF gf gets extra day off (I'll already be in US), go down to carmel for a night, to get a bit of the coastal road.
    6: Arrive in SF
    7-9: Stay in SF, but on the 9th afternoon start travelling towards yosemite. Spend the night in groveland.
    10: Visit Yosemite from valley, stay in curry village.
    11: Go to lone pine/bishop. Spend day doing walks around tioga pass en route.
    12: Death valley, then head to Vegas. [state line road fastest?]
    13: Stay in vegas (red rock canyon trip)
    14: Grand Canyon. Accommodation somewhere close.
    15: Head to panguitch, see zion on the way (small detour).
    16: See bryce early in the morning, then head to moab. [route 89]
    17: Head to boulder (fit in arches, maybe canyonlands between 16/17) [take route 128]

    Travel times oscillate between 4-5 hours, except for 15 and 17 which are 6.5, which I think is overall comfortable.

    If anybody has accommodation suggestions, or route suggestions, as well as thoughts on southern/northern rim, please let me know. It's not my usual MO, but thinking of having a fair amount of the accommodation booked. I don't feel like I have a lot of time, so I think plans shouldn't change much, and it would save me the time of looking for somewhere en route.

    Thanks again!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Be aware, it is a weekend.

    In your consideration of North Rim / South Rim, you might like to take into account that your date puts you at the South Rim over a weekend, in the height of the tourist season. Be aware that accommodation may be at a premium in the nearby towns, and that you will not necessarily move through the Desert View drive quickly. Not to mention trying to get a parking spot at each viewpoint.

    For another view of the Colorado River, you might like to make a brief stop at Horseshoe Bend.

    Lifey

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